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About the ASASA

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The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA) is an independent body, established and paid for by the marketing communications industry. It aims to ensure that its efficient system of self-regulation results in the best possible protection for both consumers and of the industry.

The Code of Advertising Practice is ASASA’s guiding document. It is based on the International Code of Advertising Practice, prepared by the International Chamber of Commerce and accepted worldwide as the basis for domestic systems of self-regulation. ASASA’s Code has been specifically tailored to the South African marketplace. It was drawn up by representatives of the local marketing and communication industries, and is amended from time to time to meet the changing needs of the industry and society.

ASASA provides a prompt, accessible and cost-efficient mechanism to ensure advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful. ASASA has a duty to represent the society it serves and to emulate public sentiment, observe all statutes and uphold the Code of Advertising Practice in an impartial and objective manner. ASASA’s beneficiaries are the general public, government, consumer agencies and the marketing industry.

ASASA’s aims

The organisation aims to adopt and enforce, as far as is reasonably possible, a Code of Advertising in the country that establishes the rules to which the advertising fraternity agrees. This Code illustrates the steps that ASASA will take to ensure, through self-imposed regulation, that advertisements can be trusted. It also provides a system of recourse for those who may have been harmed or prejudiced by an advertisement.

ASASA’s Code of sponsorship sets out the rules for those involved in any aspect of sponsorship to follow. It also provides recourse for anyone that has been harmed or prejudiced by the sponsorship.

ASASA’s vision is to ensure trustworthy advertising in South Africa in the interest of consumers and producers and publishers of advertisements.

ASASA’s mission is to consult with and advise appropriate government, statutory, provincial, civic and other authorities, and to do anything else which will help to achieve the above objects.


ASASA has been safeguarding consumers and protecting advertising freedom for more 45 years. From small beginnings in 1968, it has evolved into an authoritative body that maintains constant vigilance and resolves advertising disputes in an impartial and even-handed way.

The founders of the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa were marketing and advertising industry bodies and media owners. All industry players who commission, prepare and carry advertising were involved from the outset. Long before South Africa embraced a culture of human rights, ASASA recognized everyone’s right to be heard and to have accurate commercial communication that did not exploit the gullibility or susceptibility of any section of the population.

In its 45 year history, ASASA has undergone one name change to coincide with development in the industry and in South Africa. The organization was first named the Advertising Standards Association.

In 1982 the ASA joined the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA). This is a body which comprises several committees including the International Council of Advertising, Self- regulatory Organisation (non-European Council), the Central and Eastern Europe Working Group, Self-regulatory Committee and the European Education Action Group.


Challenges and significant events:

  • Growing consumerism resulted in consumers being invited to serve on ASASA’s committees but the president remains an independent appointment.
  • Technical arbitration procedures were set up to offer advertisers a cost-effective way to resolve disputes.
  • Legal recognition was achieved when ASASA and its Code were acknowledged by what is now known as the Electronic Communications Act.
  • Legally trained committee members enhanced the Association’s standing and authority in the eyes of the law.
  • Powerful sanctions were developed to deal adequately with those who disregarded the Code. ASASA has the authority to order an advertiser to publish a summarised version of ASASA’s ruling in all or some of the publications in which the offending advertisement appeared; all media and production costs are for the advertiser’s account, failing which ASASA can order advertising space to be withheld.


ASASA benefits different segments of society in different ways. These include:

  • The general public
    ASASA is the national body to which anyone can complain when they deem advertising and / or marketing to be unacceptable.
  • Official agencies
    ASASA is a source of information and assistance in the field of marketing communication for official agencies and statutory bodies. Officials can consult one authoritative independent body that is close to both industry and public sentiment.
  • Consumers
    ASASA is a responsive communication channel that can take consumers’ concerns to the entire media and marketing sectors.
  • Media and marketing companies
    ASASA is a fast and affordable means of resolving disputes, whether the complaints are from fellow marketers or consumers.
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